Request for Human Services Committee Briefing Regarding Suicides

April 30, 2013

Madame Chairman:

In 2012 we declared September 9 to September 15 “Suicide Prevention Week” in Fairfax County. But last year 86 people still committed suicide in this County, while another 293 people attempted to take their life. In 2011, the numbers were nearly identical. On average our police are responding to calls regarding suicide or an attempted suicide once a day. The numbers are equally disturbing across the U.S., with approximately one person committing suicide every 18 minutes. There is also an average of 18 suicides per day among veterans. We need to take a closer look at our mental health programs in general, and our suicide prevention efforts in particular, especially as they pertain to our children

Before we can adequately address the issues we face as a community, however, we must first understand them. Suicide is not a new issue to Fairfax County. This week, the Washington Examiner noted the tragic deaths over the last couple of years of three students attending W.T. Woodson High School. The article noted all three were suspected suicides. In fact, each year about five percent of all suicides in Fairfax County involve a teen. In a County that prides itself on its accomplishments; we are failing to address mental health issues adequately. Clearly, we need to be doing more to prevent these suicides.

Without objection, I ask that County staff, the Community Services Board and Fairfax County Public Schools provide the Board with a briefing at a future Human Services Community Meeting on the incidences of suicides in the County, especially those involving children, what we’re already doing to prevent them, and what we need to do to stop more in the future.

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